I am a massive soup lover no matter the weather, but as it’s mid Winter, I think we will all agree that there is nothing like a big bowl of warm comforting soup to nourish your body and soul. They’re easy to make, and it’s just as easy to make it for 1 or 10 people, so I encourage you to double the recipe so you can freeze individual portions to have a quick ‘ready meal’ for a lazy night. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t make at least double a recipe for this very reason .... just call me batch cooking Queen.
I will share a few of my favourite soup recipes but here is Anna Jones’ Ribollita from what I consider to be a bit of a bible- the amazing vegetarian cookbook a ‘Modern Way To Eat’. I totally recommend this book to vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike - she cooks beautiful and simple dishes that just happen to put veggies in the spotlight.
Ribollita is originally an Italian peasant meal so it’s very earthy and humble. Here’s her recipe which I urge you to try. It’s delicious, hearty but jam packed with tons of goodness from the kale and veggies while the beans make it filling enough for a satisfying dinner or lunch.
6 (but double the recipe for plenty of leftovers!)
2 red onions
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
6 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped, yellow leaves reserved
small bunch fresh parsley - roughly chopped
1 x 400 g tin of plum tomatoes
1 med potato, peeled and chopped
1 x 400 g tin white beans - I like butter beans (keep the liquid)
4 big handfuls of kale or cavolo nero (around 450g), stalks removed and roughly chopped
2 litres vegetable stock (home made of low salt bouillon)
4 slices of good quality bread (best if a little stale - this is optional but it really does add to the dish)
good quality extra virgin olive oil to finish
Heat a little oil in a large saucepan and fry the onions, garlic, carrots and celery over a medium heat for about 30 mins until they are soft, sweet and slightly caramelised. Add most of the parsley and cook for a few minutes.
Next add the tomatoes and the potato. Squash the tomatoes with a wooden spoon and cook on a low heat for a further 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. The tomato liquid should be almost completely absorbed by now and the veg should be looking quite dry.
Add the beans and their juice, along with the kale/cavolo nero and the stock. Bring to a gentle simmer then cook for 30 minutes.
Turn the heat off and lay the slices of bread on top of the soup like a lid. Generously drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and leave to sit for 10 minutes or so.
Then stir to combine everything - the ribollita should be thick and stewy and deeply delicious. Season with salt and pepper and more parsley, the yellow celery leaves and more good olive oil and ladle into big bowls.
If you have leftover reheat in a pan with more hot stock or water,as the soup will thicken once cool.
* I freeze this, and the consistency is fine when reheated in a pan, but eat withing a month of freezing.